General Information
Bridge of Espindo 
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  • Name: Bridge of Espindo
  • Typology: Bridge
  • Classification: Submitted to classification
  • Municipality: Lousada
  • Visiting Hours: Free 
  • Entrance Fee: Free 
  • Support Services:
  • Telephone : +351 255 810 706 / +351 918 116 488 
  • Fax: +351 255 810 709 
  • E-Mail: rotadoromanico@valsousa.pt  
  • Web: www.rotadoromanico.com 
  • Location:
    Lugar de Espindo, Meinedo, Lousada, Porto.
  • How to Get Here:

     

  • Geographic Coordinates: 41° 14' 36.53" N / 8° 16' 24.75" W 
History
History
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Bridge of EspindoThe Bridge of Espindo, which ensures the connection by the river Sousa between the places of Bustelo and Boim, should not be prior to the mid-eighteenth century since, unlike the Bridge of Vilela, it is not mentioned in "Memórias Paroquiais" [Parish Memorandum], from 1758.
Legends and Curiosities
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The medieval period was characterised by a strong demographic expansion, by the Crusades, pilgrimages and a greater mobility of people. The economy grew and developed along with social and cultural changes. The density of land use increased as a result of higher valuing of the land.

The economy was based on agriculture, but the production of flax and wool for textile production was also significant. The polycultures of the land were mainly for subsistence, with bread as the symbol and source of nourishment.

Given this scenario, the transport of goods and products, especially those of higher volume and weight, gained particular relevance in the economy of the period. The main means of transport was the cart pulled by oxen.

The existence of communication routes and the development of means of transport enabled the construction of magnificent Romanesque buildings, the sharing of teams of builders and maximised the stylistic influences.

As referred to by Carlos Almeida, the roads and paths are like "veins of a body," where "the communities organize the occupation and use of its territory, which reflects the level of their social life and its economy."

In this context of mobility, the construction of bridges naturally achieved a wide development in the medieval period, which paid great attention to them.

The history of the construction of bridges, from the late 11th century to the 14th century, reveals that these were acts of piety, with kings, churchmen and nobleman bequeathing, in their wills and final wishes, significant donations so that these bridges would rise. These actions enabled the exponential construction of bridges in the medieval period.

For the construction of medieval bridges, people sought good foundations and firm sites, as referred to by Almeida, hence the fact that they present better resistance to time and floods.

The works, carried out on a few donations, were organized through a sort of brotherhood, which attempted to collect the necessary funds. Many of these officers on charge were ultimately sanctified, fruit of the pious nature that symbolized the erection of this type of construction.

Chronology
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1998 – The Bridge of Espindo is included in the Route of the Romanesque of Vale do Sousa;

2011 – Works for the general conservation of the Bridge, under the scope of the Route of the Romanesque;

2015 – Works for the general conservation of the Bridge, under the scope of the Route of the Romanesque.

Specialities
Architecture
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The Bridge of Espindo is an example of the public civil architecture. It is a trestle platform Bridge with a maximum width of about 3,5 meters, sitting on a round arch, supported by sound pillars erected directly from the banks, this being the main feature of this road connection between the places of Bustelo and Boim.

The Bridge features in its pillar of the upstream left bank, a protection consisting of a wall or islet. The span’s width lead to the elevation of the arch and the placement of the platform in trestle, construction carried out in granite stonework, with irregular apparel batters, in a clear contract with the regular apparel of the arch, with its well geometrised voussoirs.

The platform has a protruding ledge, with a very adulterated pavement, consisting of a floor in compacted gravel and a few slabs of granite in the centre of the platform. One may also observe guards in stonework, with a fitting system of the "male-female" type.

The batters' apparel reveals successive arrangements, observing that the edges of the platform case feature a regular apparel of granite ashlars, with some pseudo-isodome rows, while there are blocks of batters and granite ashlars in irregular apparel in the central area.

On the upstream left bank, the foundation piers are protected by a supporting wall that, obliquely constructed, abuts in the respective pillar. 

At the apex of the board, downstream, enclosed between the guards, there is a granite ashlar, with framed edges and lowered central body.

Surroundings
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In the scope of the Study for the Enhancement and Protection of the Monuments of the Route of the Romanesque of the Vale do Sousa, in which the guidelines and framework of the subsequent development of technical projects for implementation and respective works for the enhancement and protection of the surroundings were defined, the conditions considered most relevant for the preservation and requalification of the surroundings were described.

The aim of this Study is to preserve the context in which these are integrated, namely the integration of constraints on legal provisions - such as Special Protection Areas - restricting urban interventions that may endanger the integrity of the surroundings.

Surroundings of the Bridge of Espindo

We also proceeded to the definition of areas and interventions of general nature to take into account in the surroundings, in order to extend the planning to a wider area and allow better circulation of tourists in the region.

Finally, the Study defined the priority interventions to be carried out in the surroundings, to allow the stabilization of the territories and, simultaneously, correct and/or create structures and supporting infrastructures.

According to the Study, the priority interventions to the property shall probably include the cleaning, maintenance and enhancement of the river and surrounding natural landscape, the recovery of vernacular architectural heritage and the correction, improvement and integration of new constructions in the landscape.

Furthermore, it is important to solve the crossing of roads at the site and implementation of a parking area for visitors to the property. 

 

Restoration and Enhancement
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The property has been submitted to some maintenance work, including the consolidation of the building, the cleaning of batters and levelling of the pavement, treatment and lighting of the surroundings, access route and parking area for visitors.

Restoration and Enhancement of the Bridge of Espindo

In the batters of the Bridge, all the vegetation was removed and we proceeded to pest control in the  masonry and joints, including the "Alminhas" [Shrines], using a herbicide.

We then proceeded to the replacement of the masonry of the guards, upstream and downstream, in the area surrounding the Bridge or those in the wrong position, and stonework identical to the original was supplied which was clearly relevant to the proper operation of the Bridge. All masonry was washed with water and a nylon brush without additives.

All the bituminous pavement existing on the Bridge deck was removed. The stone slabs in this platform, underneath the bituminous one, was removed and placed later on.

The core of the Bridge was filled and compacted with gravel, in order to sit the waterproofing screen, after which a 5 centimetre layer of gravel was applied.

Restoration and Enhancement of the Bridge of Espindo

Then the application of a geotextile and filling/regularization layer in properly compacted 10 centimetre-thick soil-cement followed. Finally, in order to allow the repositioning of the slabs, a 5 centimetre layer of sand was applied.

The works also included the construction of a gutter for the collection and drainage of rainwater in the two extremities of the Bridge, near the cross-section intersections.

The excess of land on the banks next to the Bridge was cleared, restoring the existing water lines, as well as the surroundings, namely by removing the vegetation.

The granite cubes in the pavement have been lifted and seated in a redefinition of the inclination by three percent. A lighting system was also put in place.

Gallery
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  • +Bridge of Espindo

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  • +Bridge of Espindo embedded in the landscape

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  • +Side view of the Bridge of Espindo

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Know More
Bibliography

ALMEIDA, Carlos Alberto Ferreira de – História da Arte em Portugal: o Românico. Lisboa: Editorial Presença, 2001.

ALMEIDA, Carlos Alberto Ferreira de; BARROCA, Mário Jorge – História da Arte em Portugal: o Gótico. Lisboa: Editorial Presença, 2002.

MALHEIRO, Miguel [et al.] – “Ponte de Espindo”. In Estudo de Valorização e Salvaguarda das Envolventes aos Monumentos da Rota do Românico do Vale do Sousa: 2ª Fase. Porto: [s.n.], 2005. Vol. I.

ROSAS, Lúcia (coord.) – Românico do Vale do Sousa. Lousada: Comunidade Urbana do Vale do Sousa, 2008.

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